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What is Space Tourism? A New Definition

August 21, 2017. Do you remember what happened on this date? For the first time since 1979, US citizens watched a solar eclipse in its full glory . The shadow of the sun cut across diagonally from Oregon to South Carolina, giving viewers about 2.5 minutes of glorious totality in any given location.

Hundreds of thousands of people traveled to see the “Great American Solar Eclipse” in 2017. Very few of the consider themselves space tourists – or that eclipse chasing is space tourism. Why is that, exactly?

Maybe the better question: “what is space tourism?”

The definition of space tourism is “the practice of traveling into space for recreational, leisure, or business purposes.” Said another way, any space tourism definition should focus on going to space for fun.

But is that all that space tourism is? When I founded The Space Tourism Guide, I consciously decided to consider space tourism in a wider context. 

Space Tourism is not  – and should not be  – confined to being in space alone. 

In the next few years, space tourism – going to space – will begin and hopefully become common place. But, we can also predict that it will be prohibitively expensive. For the rest of us, stuck here on earth, what can we do?

My answer: we shouldn’t feel confined to watching and waiting. We can all enjoy terrestrial space tourism activities , sometimes called “astrotourism.” These include solar eclipses, rocket launches, aurora viewing, and even stargazing.

We can and should consider all of the activities from space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Zero2Infinity, and others. However, we should not discredit the companies and destinations here on earth who meet the needs and desires for all of us who love to travel for space-related activities. This includes observatories, aerospace museums, NASA facilities, and hotels with space-themed rooms.

At Space Tourism Guide, we embrace them all.

Our mission is to provide information and inspiration for space tourism on earth and above it.

As you browse our articles, you can expect coverage of space- and astronomy-themed activities, destinations, hotels, restaurants, tours, and experiences related to outer space. “The sky is the limit,” except it’s not for us – we will go beyond the sky to experience the stars!

Thanks for exploring our site. We hope you find plenty to encourage you to explore and experience space right here on earth.

This post was originally published in June 2017 and was updated in July 2020.

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Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She grew up in Alaska, has lived across the U.S., and traveled around the world to enjoy the night sky from many different perspectives. Join her on this journey to explore space right here on earth.